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My First Time in Lagos - The Journey and the Lesson
A journey out of my humble hometown and the unforgettable experiences that unfolded.
I was born and bred in Ile-Ife, an ancient town in southwestern Nigeria. As circumstances permitted, I spent the first 20 years of my life there. To make it even more interesting, I went to university in the same town. Now, don’t feel bad for me just yet; this story either gets worse or better, I’m not sure.
It’s December, about 8 years ago. We just finished another annoying exam at my university, and it appeared to be the best time to cool off some heat.
Somehow, the idea of going to Lagos came about from Rhozario, and Dockthor was also in support (we were all roommates). Rhozario, as the sabi boy, was already chilling with Lagos big boys. So when he said, “Let’s go to Lagos”, who was I to say NO?
Tip: I’ll keep this story short so you can enjoy the gist without getting lost in it—because the most important part is the lesson at the end.
Let’s go to Lagos…
It's 3 a.m. on the 19th of December.
I either woke up early or couldn’t sleep, ready to go shut down Lagos. I could already imagine the journey while picking from my pile of big shoes. “How many shoes do I need?” I asked myself. “At least I’ll need one per day”, I concluded.
I carefully handpicked my swag like I was going for New York Fashion Week. One swag for every day I’d spend in Lagos. Yunno, I didn’t want to land in Lagos looking like that kid from Ife.
Morning came, and it was time to take off. We dressed up looking all flashy, just to squeeze in public transport for a 4-hour journey. We couldn’t take a direct bus to Lagos, so we had to take one to Ibadan and another to Lagos. But who cared? “As long as we get to Lagos today today,” I said.
You’ll explain at the station…
We reached Ibadan and got off at Iwo Road, one of the busiest roundabouts in Ibadan.
And that’s when it dawned on me that looking all flashy was a bad idea. We stood out like beacons; it appeared like we were there to steal the show. This made us a target for everyone with bad intentions, including thieves and police.
I could tell the police officers, who were always in that area to extort boys for money, could spot us from miles away. I saw two of them gearing towards us from afar. We locked eyes, I throway face like they didn’t exist, but that didn’t stop them. They jumped in front of us like a cat chasing a laser pointer.
“Follow us”, said the police dude with a distinctive wrinkled face and a typical angry-man attitude.
Reluctantly, we dragged our massive shoes towards their stand, which was right in the middle of the junction.
“Identify yourself, who are you guys, and where on earth are you going?”.
I’m not good with on-the-spot confrontations like that, but we could identify ourselves.
They collected our phones, opened our laptops and started looking for whatever they lost. After several minutes, they returned our properties but asked Dockthor, “What is your name?” he gave them his name. “So why does your email say Dockthor101@gmail.com? Are you impersonating a Doctor?”. I’m sure you’re surprised, I was too.
“My nickname is Dockthor, spelt D O C K T H O R, and it’s not DOCTOR”. My guy explained.
“Well, you’ll explain that at the station”… The police dude said. I’m sure in his mind, he was like, “There’s no way I’ll let you go scot-free with those big shoes without dropping me some cash”.
We got into a tricycle and followed the police van to the station. The van was difficult to miss. It was a Hilux that looked like it was bought in 1938 and used to convey soldiers to the battlefield during World War II.
It was most likely my first encounter with the police, and I’ve heard a number of stories about their cunning ways. So, I had all sorts of thoughts racing through my mind while we were on our way to the station. “Perhaps I should’ve worn my blue native and pam slippers. That wouldn’t have brought any attention at all. Would we still get to Lagos today? What if..what if..?”
When we got to the station, it was a lot of explanations that the police didn’t care to listen to. Truly, all they cared about was their daily bread—and we finally got the scope.
Fast forward about 2 hours, everyone got bored and tired of talking; we bought them food from their favourite street hawker, and they bid us goodbye.
For a minute, I thought they would pour sand in my Lagos debut milk. But the lord was with us on that journey.
Undeterred, we got back on the road, still ready to go shut down in Lagos!
Life in Lagos…
On getting to Lagos, the bus dropped us off on the mainland, but our hotel was at Victoria Island, so we had to find our way there. As the cab drove along the third mainland bridge, I couldn't help but look at the large body of water below and wonder if I could dive into it (Haha, just kidding).
Upon reaching V.I., the sight of houses around there was amusing; it was roughly my first time seeing a gated mansion, not counting the king’s palace back in my town.
“Omo, see as this place fresh,” I told Dockthor excitedly.
We arrived at the hotel all tired, but since we didn’t come to Lagos to
count bridge rest, we decided to hit the streets. But before then, I had my bath and switched up my swag because I couldn’t hit the Lagos streets with the same drip I came to Lagos with (See what I did there? 😉).
As mentioned earlier, Rhozario had his way around Lagos, and he used to work with some goons at Club Quilox, one of the most popular nightlife clubs in Lagos.
He told us there was a special event at the club that night, but we needed to enter earlier before the clubbing started—because once the real big boys started falling in, we might be unable to make it in.
So we went in really early. And stayed on the rooftop, a vantage point where we could clearly see the road and club entrance.
Some hours later, people started falling in, and the night started with slow music. It was fascinating to watch from the rooftop as people arrived.
A group of ladies waddled in their feminine glory, looking as radiant as the sun on a clear day. In my mind, I was like, “na so una dey do for here?”.
It’s now 1 a.m., and the party was in full swing. The big boys have started coming in.
Alas! I saw Rolls Royce for the first time; it was midnight blue, its front lights radiated like a thousand stars, and the tires glided over the road like it was floating on a cloud. Oh boy! It symbolised luxury and elegance like no other. This was unlike anything I’d ever seen in
Ife my entire life.
Inside the club was a VIP section where the big ballers were spending. A Nollywood actor, Mike Ezuruonye, was there that night, and we were at the upper level, looking at them like a dog staring at its owner eating.
I saw one guy's gold chain in the dark; it was so bright, it could have passed for a full moon.
All in all, it was a great night. The music was deafening, and the lighting was weird (for a shortsighted person), but it was a memorable experience, at least for a first-time clubgoer.
We returned to our stay, and I spent the rest of the night thinking about that Rolls Royce. I couldn’t seem to get it off my mind.
We spent more days in Lagos. At some point, Rhozario decided to give us a quick photoshoot 🤣.
On the 22nd of December, we went for the Headies Award. It was my first time seeing so many celebrities in one place. Everyone came for the award night looking like a million bucks, including me 🤪.
Long story short, the Lagos experience was fun.
Back to Life, Back to Reality
The trip back to Ife was a silent one for me. I couldn’t get the Lagos experience off my mind. I remembered the Rolls Royce again, the fancy houses around Victoria Island, the elite restaurants, the luxurious cars on the road, and even the city girls and their expensive outfits. I recalled every tiny detail.
As the bus slowly entered my town, Ile-Ife, it was like everything went wrong. Then, I started to notice that there was no Mercedez Benz in the whole town, and the roads were tiny. The houses were forgettable—old and rusty, and no fancy restaurants existed.
It dawned on me that it was nothing like Lagos.
Suddenly, I became less contented. “I don’t want to stay here for longer”, I swore underneath my breath.
For two decades, I called my small town home without ever bothering about venturing beyond its borders. Life in Ile-Ife felt normal, and I thought nothing of it.
But that trip changed it all for me.
This taught me that you don't miss what you don't know, but once you know, you know. And for someone with dreams, the level of exposure has a significant effect on the mindset.
For me, the outcome of the exposure was good - because knowing that there’s life beyond life was a great motivation. And immediately after school, I left that town quicker than a hot knife through butter.
Now, on the flip side.
It could have been bad — if I never left that town after school, I’d probably be constantly sad, knowing that there’s more to life. Or haunted at night by the thought of that blue Rolls Royce.
With this understanding, we can argue that feeling bad about a situation is mostly because we know the situation can be better. If you don’t know of a better scenario, yours will be satisfactory.
This is why the people living in some remote bush without internet access who kill rabbits for breakfast and roast fishes for dinner are mostly happier with their lives—they don’t know of another world out there, and what you don’t know doesn’t bother you.
So, the question is, would you rather live humbly with what you know, or seek more exposure in life?
Blue pill or red pill? The choice is yours.
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